Trent Alexander-Arnold: Liverpools Unnaturally Natural Talent Is Only 21 & That Is Quite Mad

When I turned 21, I was on the verge of finishing university with an underwhelming grade to match my underwhelming efforts and a semi-serious Football Manager addiction.

Trent Alexander-Arnold reached the legal age to drink in America on 7 October 2019, having already played in two Champions League finals - winning one after setting up one of the competition's all-time great moments - achieving a new Premier League record for assists for a defender and having played for England at a World Cup. And not one of the awful World Cups.

He's also been in a PFA Team of the Year and twice been Liverpool's Young Player of the Year. For f*ck's sake, he even ​outlasted Bill Gates in a chess match against the world's top chess player.

If footballers actually had to write CVs, that would be a pretty good one...especially at an age when I myself was seriously weighing up whether to add 'back-to-back (virtual) promotions with Forest Green Rovers' to my own resume just to bulk it out.

Liverpool FC v Leicester City - Premier League

​Liverpool waited a while for a homegrown talent, with much criticism following years of barren harvests from the once-great academy. However, in Alexander-Arnold the Reds now have an unnaturally natural talent, a player so gifted it is worth stopping to remind ourselves that this isn't normal.

You know the back story; West Derby born and raised, tight-knit family, peeking over the Melwood fence to watch his heroes, picked out of a hat to attend a Liverpool summer camp at the age of six...The highlights of his fairytale are already part of the lore at Anfield like he is one of the veterans.

In interviews, he gives mature, careful answersas if he isn't basically still a child. He seems to take everything in his stride. He talks about his dream to become Liverpool captain and it doesn't sound mental. You just think, 'yeah, that sounds about right'.

It's easy to forget to with Alexander-Arnold's lightning ascent and casual brilliance that most footballers of his age are still looking for opportunities, any opportunities where they can get them, and that most 21-year-olds, generally speaking, are just looking for a job, getting their kicks from flukey goals at five-a-side and tournament wins on Football Manager. 

Ben Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria, Kevin Stewart, Connor Randall, Sheyi Ojo and Harry Wilson all also made first-team appearances in 2016/17 - the season Alexander-Arnold made his Liverpool debut - each one a young, exciting talent with the supposed potential to smash through that glass ceiling into the starting XI. While they all fell away for one reason or another, the young right back thrived.

To succeed as a youngster at an elite-level European club, where money is little object in a transfer market that is often held as the solution to all of life's problems, you need to be unnaturally talented. 

Three years and nearly 100 Liverpool appearances since his debut, TAA is the youngest-ever player to start in two consecutive Champions League finals and one of the key men in Jurgen Klopp's side.

At the age of 21, along with fellow full back (and rival for king of the assist) Andy Robertson, he is one Liverpool's leading creative outlets. Without their full backs Liverpool simply would not function the same. Without Alexander-Arnold they would not be the same.

His side-footed thunderbastard of a free-kick against Chelsea and nutmeg off the corner flag (the location of more than one of his greatest tricks) in the win over Leicester showcased the impish confidence of a player on the top of the world, not afraid to try the outrageous.

As highlighted on Twitter this week, Alexander-Arnold has assisted the second-most shots of any player in Europe's top five leagues this season while only Kevin de Bruyne has played more key passes in total. 

Speaking of Manchester City's creator-in-chief, Jamie Carragher - one of precious few successful Liverpool academy graduates of the last 20-odd years - has claimed Alexander-Arnold, who grew up as a midfielder, can move forward into a de Bruyne-type role for Liverpool one day.

It's a mad suggestion. It's mad because you think, 'yeah, that sounds about right'. He'll probably be wearing the captain's armband too.

For the rest of us, there's always the Football Manager addiction. 

Source : 90min